Oct 13 2016 18839 1

Dated: 10/13/2016

Views: 805

State agency: Free foreclosure help is available


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Oct. 12, 2016 – Three years ago, Florida lawmakers earmarked $10 million to provide free housing counseling and financial education services to homeowners facing foreclosure.

But to date, most of that money remains unused.

That's why the Florida Housing Finance Corp. is launching a public awareness campaign to let homeowners know about the Foreclosure Counseling Program.

The agency partners with federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and other industry groups in all 67 Florida counties to help people at risk of losing their homes.

Cecka Rose Green, spokeswoman for Florida Housing, said about $7.5 million of the $10 million fund is still available. More than 3,700 homeowners have used the program so far, but thousands more still could be helped, she said.

"We're trying to get the word back out," Green said. "Florida definitely is experiencing a [housing] recovery, but there are still many families in the throes of foreclosure."

ATTOM Data Solutions, of Irvine, Calif., says the number of new foreclosure cases in South Florida is below pre-recession levels. Still, from March through August, new cases rose 6 percent from a year earlier, according to the research firm.

Housing counselors in the Foreclosure Counseling Program will help homeowners contact their lenders to inquire about mortgage modifications and other ways they can keep their properties, Green said.

The counselors also will work with clients to create budgets and improve their financial outlook, she said.

The Urban League of Palm Beach County, the Urban League of Broward County and New Visions Community Development Corp. in Fort Lauderdale are among the more than 40 agencies statewide that participate in the program.

Homeowners must contact the agencies that serve their counties to enroll. For a complete list, visit FloridaHousing.org.

Jacqueline Robotham, program manager for housing services at New Visions, said many homeowners think they have to pay for services offered for free by the Foreclosure Counseling Program.

"I definitely think this program needs more publicity," she said. "People need to know about the agencies that will help them at no cost. They need to know who to go to that's trustworthy."

Jenice Stallings, 39, of Riviera Beach, said she used the program to get a trial mortgage modification. She said she's confident her lender will finalize a permanent modification in the next few weeks.

"To know that we'll be able to save our home for our kids, we're elated," Stallings said. "I can't even describe the feeling."

© 2016 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Paul Owers

  Related Topics: Foreclosures

Florida Realtors® Headquarters - Orlando: (407) 438-1400
Office of Public Policy - Tallahassee: (850) 224-1400

© 2016 Florida Realtors®

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